Persepolis, aka the City of Persians, is one of the most important archaeological sign of civilization, and it represent the peak of the persian empire of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes. The location was chosen by Cyrus, but it was Dario that started the construction, while Xerxes completed it. That’s before Alexander the Great burnt the place to the ground.
To visit Persepolis and the surroundings it is going to take from half to a full day, and it is one hour from Shiraz (well connected to the rest of Iran).
In Persepolis, the Last Shah of Persia held the ultra-glamorous celebrations for the 2’500 year of the Persian Empire, inviting dignitaries from all over the world. It has been considered one of the most expensive party every, and it shocked the population of Iran, which often was very poor. This has been on the sparks of the Iranian Revolution against the King of Iran, which called itself also “King of Kings”.
The entrance to Persepolis is through the magnificent Gate of All Nations, also called Gate of Xerxes, where everyone entering Persepolis was passing by. From here, the guests could be received in the King Palace or go in the Army quartier. Didn’t have my drone with me (bringing a flying camera to Iran didn’t seem to me a good idea), but you can get a view from the satellite thanks to Google Earth .
The worst part of this is all the vandalism graffiti left on the wall. If we think that graffiti is a recent phenomenon, well, here you can spot names and dates of tourists (because we can’t call them travellers) during the centuries.
In the road after the gate, on the right side, you can spot a perfect statue of Gryphon (or Griffon or Griffin), a mythological creature with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion. The origin is ancient, and there are trace of this beast both in ancient greece, india and egypt.
For those who have seen the Hollywood movie “300”, in the film Xerxes was attacking the Spartans with ferocious warriors called Immortals. They actually existed, not as deformed men like pictured in the movie, but as highly-trained soldiers, picked as a children to be the elite guard of the Persian army. They were 10’000 men, and if one died it was immediately replaced, thus the nickname “Immortals”
Another peculiar symbol seen all over Persepolis, and in Iran, is the Lion attacking the Bull. The Lion is a symbol of power and strength, and the symbol of the Persian Empire itself. Another interpretation is that it shows the spring celebration, where the sun (Lion) attacks the Earth (Bull.)
The few surviving statues reveals beautiful details: the ones best preserved are the one found covered by sand, that protected them by vandalism and weather
In the day trip to Persepolis, there are 2 other unmissable sight: the first one is in Pasagardae, and it is the Tomb of Cyrus the Great. The historical importance of this 2’500 years old monument is impressive, and while you are paying visit to the King of Asia and the founder of the Persian Empire, remember that people have been doing the same in the past two thousands years.
The second site is the necropolis of Naqsh-e Rajab, where there are the tombs of Darius the Great and Xerxes. If you have been to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, you will not a striking resemblance between the two sites.
Just on the left to the necropolis there is the site of Naqsh-e Rajab, which are carvings of the Assanid era.